Interviews

Interviews
AGDC 07: Gala-Net Interview with John Young

Dana Massey | 24 Sep 2007 17:25
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Gala-Net is the North American publisher for a variety of localized Asian MMOs and the operator of GPotato.com. At AGDC, VP John Young was on hand to talk about their business and their latest game Upshift StrikeRacer.

Upshift StrikeRacer is the company's first foray outside what is traditionally called an MMO. The game is lobby based and online matches max out at eight people. However, Young believes it appeals to the same group through its use of some light social networking features and fast paced, character driven gameplay.

The key difference between Upshift and an MMO is that there is no common area, or town. Instead, players meet through a lobby system and head into one of three match types:

  • Strike Racing: This is kind of reminiscent of the old Road Rash games. People race, but can kill each other as they go. Thus, players must not only navigate the competition, but kill them to ensure victory.
  • Racing: This is more traditional. Players can bump, but not murder each other. Think Nascar.
  • Time Attack: In Time Attack, players race against the clock. It's not very multi-player friendly, which is why players can gamble reputation points (their in-game currency) on the outcome.

"[Gala-Net provided] localizations and culturalization," for the game. It's originally developer, the Korean company NChannel, made a game that was at its core fun, but likely not of much interest to the average North American. Young explained some of the ways they made sure it would be.

One way they made the game feel more Western was through its music. They hired composer Kevin Manthei to do the first pass at the music. A traditional composer, Manthei has made a reputation through his work on Resident Evil, Twisted Metal and City of Villains, among others. Then to create a kind of contrast and mood that felt appropriate, they brought in Dan Spitz, the lead guitarist of the heavy metal band Anthrax. The combination of their two styles, according to Young, perfectly sets the mood of the game.

Like all of Gala-Net's games, Upshift StrikeRacer is free-to-play, but with a micropayment transaction model. This means players can use real currency to purchase bigger and faster cars, if they feel compelled, but can also play without spending a dime at a certain level.

In this case, Gala-Net has also partnered with advertisers DoubleFusion to add real-world advertising into the game world. This is a move that young believes makes perfect sense in a contemporary setting. In auto racing, advertising is everywhere and its addition in their game not only won't be obtrusive, they believe, but it might even add authenticity.

Finally, young revealed that they are also hard at work on a safe and secure peer-to-peer marketplace where people can buy and sell items directly from each other.

Upshift StrikeRacer is available now through GPotato.com.

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